Published: Sun, June 11, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Champions Trophy: India face Proteas challenge in do-or-die clash

Champions Trophy: India face Proteas challenge in do-or-die clash

South Africa were restricted to 219/8 in 50 overs in their previous match against Pakistan with only David Miller getting amongst the runs. It left them in a crisis against Pakistan, and vulnerable against Sri Lanka. At that time many people were wondering about the role of spinners in modern ODI game.

While neither India nor South Africa can do much about the result of the Pakistan versus Sri Lanka game, they will be keen to do what's in their hands - win their final game in the group stage. The format though, in its permutation zeal, as already placed one of them on the chopping block.

Fast bowler Junaid Khan replaced him, seamlessly returning figures of 2/53 against South Africa. Rain hampered their game against Pakistan in Birmingham, when they were squeezing the opposition with some tight bowling. When you have set standards for yourself and then people get shocked.

Is 322 a good-enough target though? Such a scenario puts enormous pressure on the players knowing it's a must win game for them.

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Hear from the Indian skipper Virat Kohli ahead of his sides crunch match against South Africa! If the pitch at the Oval continues to be the beauty it is then India's bowlers are in for a searching test like against the Lankans. "It's good that we can choose from quality players", Kohli said on the eve of the match. There wasn't anything wrong with how India approached the Lankan chase. Kohli brought talismanic spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in to bowl the 10th over. "It's become very exciting". Due to no other source of employment, they are forced to stay at home and kill time or kill themselves. It's important for us to make sure we focus on why we've been successful over the last few months.

South Africa might not hit the panic button when it comes to selection even though JP Duminy has scored only four fifties and averages only 30 since the 2015 World Cup. They are back at it again, in 2017 now, belying poor form and injury in the months gone past.

The victor of this match will go to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy.

History says India have the edge in Sunday's scenario.

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"It's been three-four years now", said Dhawan, about opening with Rohit. "May be you think of phases where we could have accelerated (vs SL), but I don't see that as a major issue".

India, by contrast, tend to coast through the games between major tournaments.

Interestingly; the most important contribution from SL regarding our cricket hasn't come via worldwide matches. Hardik Pandya seemed like an innocuous medium pacer and Ravindra Jadeja was dealt with harshly in conditions where the ball just didn't grip. It didn't against Lanka on Thursday as India were reduced to 179/3, and Dhawan had to do the rebuilding job with MS Dhoni.

South Africa have been speaking about it for long, but somehow have failed to execute plans on the field.

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Combinations: Kohli hinted changes are on the agenda as he looks to find the right balance in his bowling attack.

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